Hey! Sorry it's been so long since I updated. I lost track of the parent file for this story, and it's taken me a while to find it again, but enjoy! R&R!
The bell rang to dismiss class, and the whole class shuffled out of the lecture hall. Peter Parker, Connors's star student, was last, and he stopped to talk to his instructor.
"Can I talk to you, Dr. Connors?"
Connors sighed. "I'd love to, but I have a little problem I need to sort out first." Pete opened his mouth to reply, but Connors cut him off. "It isn't about your grades or your project, so I must ask you to wait until tomorrow morning. I'm afraid my problem-namely a depressed 500-pound eight-limbed man moping on my couch-will worsen."
Peter's eyes got big. "You mean you have Dr. Octavius staying with you?"
Connors nodded. "Yeah, and he can't find a way to rebound from everything. It's a bit frustrating, but I'll be honest, I'd like to personally thank Spider-Man for returning him to sanity."
"Actually…" Peter trailed off, regretting the sentence even as he started it.
Connors looked at him curiously. "Actually what?"
"I take photos of Spider-Man for the Daily Bugle. I'll tell him."
The physicist smiled. "Thank you."
Peter's mind was still working, and he said, "I could come over and talk to him, if you want. He seemed to enjoy talking to me last time."
"I can't ask that of you, but would you really?" Connors tried to keep the excitement out of his voice.
"Yeah, no problem. I don't have anything too important to do." Well, that wasn't strictly true, but he doubted Connors would believe he was Spider-Man.
"Thank you. Thank you very much. I am in your debt."
"How have you been, Peter?" Octavius asked. Peter shrugged.
"Busy. I finally got that girl. Your advice helped."
Octavius smiled. "Glad to hear it."
Connors looked from one to the other and cleared his throat. "I'm going to go get drinks." He turned and left for the kitchen.
"Thought he would never leave," Octavius murmured.
"You don't like spending time with him?"
"No, no! I love talking to him, but we can't talk about Spider-Man with him around." There was a slight edge in his voice and a gleam in his eyes Peter didn't like. "How's the spider been?"
"Fine. Loved by the public, hated by the press. Is hailed for returning you to sanity."
The whole "returned to sanity" bit may not be entirely true, Peter realized with a jolt. Octavius had almost the exact look in his eyes Doc Ock had had. He decided to change the subject.
"What's with this place?" Peter asked, looking around.
Octavius's eye's mad gleam brightened and gained strength. "He's very… reptilian, shall we say? Mutagenic agents, you understand."
This was certainly not something Peter had heard before. "Reptilian?"
"Oh, yes… Reptilian. He has a cooler core temperature and enjoys sleeping in the sun because of it."
Peter was starting to feel like there was something just a little off in Octavius, if that look was any indication.
The madness is setting in again, Peter thought. It was clear in his face and his poise. His eyes were shinning, and Peter didn't like how he was looking at him. He had seen that look only when he had been on a rampage.
Then Octavius shook himself violently. He snapped his eyes shut and started whispering furiously under his breath. "Not again! Not ever again!" His arms whirred and clicked just as frantically, and he turned a blinding gaze at them.
"I may not be able to separate myself from you, but that doesn't mean I have to listen to you!"
At that moment, Connors saw it fit to return with soda. He saw Octavius and hurriedly moved over to Peter.
"I don't know. We were talking, and then he started to phase back into Doc Ock."
"This is just what I was afraid of. It's his depression."
Peter's mind raced. "Try music to deal with it."
Connors looked at him. "What?"
"Music. His wife was an English major, and he studied science. Music and art are the only things left. Get him to play piano."
Octavius was far away, arguing with his mechanical half.
Is it really?
It is! I'm not going back!
Was it so bad? Was it?
Don't call me that!
Why not? You are our father.
Don't cross that line! That would make Rosalie your mother, but she would never help create something so evil!
You can't just ignore us. We are a part of you, and you need us. You can't survive without us.
I don't deny that, but I am not going to let you take control again.
We were never in control. We merely suggested actions for you to take.
You took advantage of my emotions, my pride! You turned me into a monster.
Perhaps, but you commanded so much. You got exactly what you wanted and showed the world there was much more to little Otto Octavius. You had spine, backbone. What do you have now? You are staying with a mutant half-lizard in his tank talking to the radioactive spider.
The arms circled him, whispering.
I'm not going to listen any more.
We will always be here. You can't ignore us forever.
They fell silent, and he allowed himself to relax some. He looked at Connors and Peter, and they looked back at him.
"Are you alright?" Connors asked. "You look exhausted."
"I am. I didn't get much sleep last night, and fighting with these things isn't helping." He gestured to his tentacles, which looked at him.
"You should get some rest," Peter said concerned. Connors nodded.
"Yes, you should."
"I'll be fine." Octavius waved it away.
Peter shook his head. "Maybe not. You won't be able to stand up to your robot arms if you don't have enough sleep."
"Do you want to relapse?" Connors demanded. He was more intense than Peter had ever seen him.
Octavius sighed. "Fine. I'll take a nap." He got to his feet and left for the extra bedroom. Connors sat down limply right where he had been sitting and rubbed his forehead. He suddenly looked very tired and old.
"I don't know what I'm going to do. It's been a week since he was released, and he is no better. And the Daily Bugle is not helping. Do you know what the headline was the day the court broke the news of the ruling? 'Doc Ock walks free.' The whole article was about how the city had let a villain back into the public."
"I'm telling you: music and art. It's pure emotion."
Connors looked at him. "You may be onto something." He stood. "I'm going to see if I have anything here."
Peter followed him out into the kitchen, where he pulled a rolled-up poster from behind the microwave. He spun around and yanked open a drawer. A bottle of old green paint was produced, and he unscrewed the cap. Peter taped the poster to the table blank side up, and Connors poured the paint onto the paper. With his hand, he dipped his fingers in it and swirled it around.
"This just might work." He kept rubbing it, pushing it this way and that. Some areas it was so thin to show the white underneath, and others it was thick and dark. Peter looked at the developing picture, and he recognized the shape of it.
"It's a lizard."
Connors stepped back and looked at it. To his dismay and horror, it was a lizard. His subliminal reptilian ways were coming out. That might be something to worry about in the future, but he had Otto to worry about for now.